Friday, June 22, 2018

You mean, it's still today? First time at Toastmasters - Poems: Heat - The Rain - Unlike Me, My Garden Has a Great Memory - The Miss Bissell Ballet - Red Toenails

Image result for british baking show  Just watched the British Baking Show while I rode my bike for 25 minutes. They were making all sorts of breads, including flat breads.

Liked the show on Facebook and left a comment.

First started making bread from Joy of Cooking when I first got married. Interesting I thought that was something I ought to do. Mike loved the bread. Of course we were divorced 5 yrs later.

My friend Lynne Henrion bought me the Tassajara Bread Book, which I still have, by Edward Espe Brown, a monk. I wrote him but the letter came back in the mail.

Saw the film THE BIG SICK this morning at the Huntingdon Valley Library. Interminable. I'd give it a C+ or B-minus. Wanted terribly to watch it - glad I did - and knew if I didn't see it today, I'd never see it.

Just guessing that Roger Ebert, my most trusted film reviewer, liked it a lot.

Hold on.

They loved it. I'll read the review later.

My hair smells delicious. Bought Revlon dye. The instructions were as big as fitting a needle through a camel's eye.

Trying to read em, I sat at the kitchen table. It was still light outside. Then got my red flashlight and painfully read the directions.

Oh, yes, those plastic gloves you must wear. They were affixed to the directions. You pour the bottle of auburn dye into a large white plastic bottle, after snipping off the top.

The top is somewhere in the kitchen. Doubt the mouse will be interested in it.

Decided to perform the operation in the downstairs stall shower. Bc it's small, it wouldn't get the dye all over. Sadly, tho, I couldn't calibrate the temperature so it was like I was burning at the stake.

Now that it's over my hair does smell delicious.

Am gonna look in the meer now. Am upstairs in the my study. Hold on.

Looks good! There's still bald patches that show thru.


Ate at TNT in Hatboro, PA around noon. Spag and meatballs and tapioca for dessert. I love talking to the folks in there.

Tim used to be a roofer. I asked him what it was like, as my short story for tomro's Beehive may involve getting a new roof.

OMG, these unsalted nuts are really something! Truthfully, they haven't much flavor, but they're awfully fun to chew.

Rem introduced me to the band Mission in Burma. Click to listen to em.

Here's their info.

Rem will burn me a copy, which he'll give me the morrow. It's punk rock, whatever the hell that is. The lead singer had to drop out on account of tinnitus.

You know what? I take 81 mg of baby aspirin per day and I don't have tinnitus. End of June I'm off the bruise-making Plavix.


Thursday night, Garbage Day, I attended a Toastmasters Meeting at the Willow Grove Giant. I read about it in

Maryna and Vitaly, married couple from Bellaruse, gave me a warm welcome. Let's get the spelling right.

Map of Belarus


Beautiful place, said Maryna (pronounced Marina).

Last year she gave the opening speech at an IT conference in Brazil. They loved her.

I did a couple of talks at my first event. Really enjoyed it. Told Mom about it bc Daddy used to attend Toastmasters.

No he didn't. He took the Dale Carnegie course.

Image result for bic pen

As a prize, they gave him a pen.  Me, I'm a Bickster, but now I prefer the American Heritage Credit Union pen.

So, after Toastmasters, I was in an unbelievably FANTASTIC mood. I mean, there's no explanation for this, is there?

C'mon, folks. Leave me a comment. What dyou think?

For sure, I did a superb job.


Ready for the poems?


94 says the weather forecast
Here's how I'll celebrate
the hazardous weather where
people always die of heat stroke

Home's no place to be.
Gulping down wawa from the
tap, I'll set off for my
favorite places, Wegman's Grocers,
where I'll order some Chinese
rice noodles, then hydrate with
wawa in a tall blue bottle

Off I go to the Upper Moreland
Library. "Hot enough out there?"
someone will say.

"Oh, I love the heat," I'll say,
wondering if it's true or if that's
just the contrarian in me.

Way into the back I'll go
plop myself on a soft padded chair
hold the book "Milk" by Mark Kurlansky
in front of me, close my eyes and sleep.

Silent screams of the separated families
resound through the room and all of the
rooms of America.


Did you know the last of the five steps of grief is
acceptance? She was a homely woman that
Dr Elisabeth Kubler Ross. My friend Dotty
who I've lost touch with, was invited by
Ross to assist on her healing farm
in Virginia. I wouldn't have gone either,
Dotty. Death talk stiffens me.

Today when I got in the car, I wore
my wool coat and wool beret, made in
China, and all the little papers I keep
in the little pouch on the driver's side
were slapped hard by the rain. Stop it!
I yelled. I need to read the damn things.
They're directions. At my age, and I'm
still young, I can't remember places.

I drove to Hatboro to mail my income
tax returns. "You can't get wet,"
I whispered, or they might get
suspicious and audit me. I raced
indoors, holding the two envelopes
aloft, like a squealing baby. Plop, plop,
they went, one after the other,
down the chute, like the sliding
board at my grandkids' house.

The rain removed an enormous branch
from "my" tree, which fell onto the
neighbor's plot. The fellow mows his
lawn, with gusto and whistling, any
time he pleases. That's men for you.

So, I must-needs remove the damn branch
and the little branchlets that went
down with Mama, so I squatted in my
pink socks and Birkenstocks, and
carried them all to my backyard
and gave them a good horseshoe toss
into the weedy little forest
behind my house, always expecting
to see Hansel and Gretel with their
sweet little anguished faces.

Shall I build a house of twigs
and branches and straw from
grass clippings and live
there de temps de temps?
Tell me. I value your opinion.



Jessica at my volunteer job
with the elderly marveled at
my red toenail polish.

I have only this morning
taken another look at them
as I lay in bed and held them
straight up toward the ceiling.

Magnificent's the only word
to describe them. Still, they're
hard to view, so I've hit
upon an idea.

Why not?
A toenail party.
Bring your toenails with.
I insist, though, you prepare
them well, whether polished
or not.

For the first time, many of you
will pay deserved attention to
the little fellers, and their
undersides known as the
soles of our feet.

Although attached to our bodies,
feet do have souls all their own.
Time at last to celebrate.


In my blue pimpled gardening gloves,
I sprinkled the expanse of our jardin
spread all over our land.

Delight was separating the new fig tree
from Creeping Charlie, with a snip of
my silver shears.

That creep had even invaded the blue hydrangea
my friend Barry had saved from smothering weeds.

Its one blossom, the size of a
popcorn ball, trumpets "I am here. I am here!"

Moving over to the azaleas - and I wear my favorite
shoes, which, like Michael Phelps, love to get wet -
the beanstalk has popped through again.

Oh, lovely, faithful beanstalk what shall I
do with you?

It should take me no more than a day. If you
don't hear from me, my will is in my passport drawer.

I smell the blood
of an American woman.

But he don't know I've got
the silver shears in my hand.


Steps going upstairs
steps going downstairs
living room round the debris
on the floor: envelopes, a
shirt or two, the Imelda pile
of shoes, near the Ikea desk
I bought at a rummage sale
down the street

In the upstairs hall
the red dragon rug
stolen from sister Donna
pressing with Miss Bissell
each and every fringe
just so

In my upstairs office
afloat with ideas pinging
off the yellow walls, birdsong
from outdoors, and a blue mug
from the inlaws from Disneyland
filled with surprises - Hello
staple remover, pens, scissors
and a tiny sign on the bottom
you will not believe:
Do not microwave.

Shall I try out for the Bolshoi?
For the Balanchine? Or Alvin Ailee?

Or shall I just stay home and dream.

CLICK ON Alvin Ailee above and we'll dance together.

Cha cha cha.

Image result for alvin ailey

Alvin Ailey Ellington career.jpg

Ailey kept his life as a dancer a secret from his mother for the first two years.[5]

Ailey died on December 1, 1989 at the age of 58.[11] To spare his mother the social stigma of his death from HIV/AIDS, he asked his doctor to announce that he had died of terminal blood dyscrasia.

Okay, in the new tradition of ending my blog posts with inspiration....


Okay, I'm gonna go downstairs, open the front door, step outside and feel the rain.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Help me Jesus - God (I pray every night and thank God I'm still alive)


I'm downstairs in the coolest room of the house
when I hear my gardeners knock on the door.

I throw my book aside, tromp barefoot upstairs
and see my new visitors.
My reaction is fast, practiced, possibly unkind.

Two young men stand out there. One looks like
Alan Mumper back in third grade.

Fresh-faced, trusting, believing that goodness
prevails, I hold up my right hand, like giving
the Girl Scout Pledge.

Jesus? I exclaim.

Sorry, not interested.

Good luck. Have a nice day.

After I walk away from the door, I think, I should have invited them in.

Sat them down for some lemonade and Milano cookies, neither of which I have.

Let them talk about their Jesus. My guess is they're Jehovah's Witnesses, tho
they could be Mormons.

Of course it may take a while to get them out of my house. I'll make an excuse.
Really, a lie. Would Jesus condone lies?

Certainly not.

The last day I talked to the Witnesses was on September 11, 2011. They were right here
at my door.

They had no idea what had just happened. The start of a new epoch in these failing United States of America.


Image result for john p crevelingJohn P Creveling and his wife Christina Robertson.

In 2009 John was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. He had deep brain surgery which helped reduce his tremors.

He sent me his book, MORE THAN WHAT YOU SEE.

I emailed him my impressions of the book, which contain his photographs and paintings. The book is written entirely in verse!

Your illustrations, I wrote, remind me of the work of Marc Chagall and Arshile Gorky.

Image result for marc chagall

God only knows how I remembered the name of Gorky, a pseudonym.

Image result for arshile gorky

Gorky could not withstand the effects of the Armenian Genocide and took his own life.

Great music now on WXPN. "Julian Booker is my name."

He saw Paul Simon last night at the Wells Fargo Stadium.


My Facebook poem o the day is called GOD. Gonna write it right now.

Ahem! Blowing of nose. Eat breakfast of Philadelphia Cream Cheese with Chives and Onions... thanks for reaching it, ma'am, on the top shelf

Was just outside sprinking and thought of some more things to add. Don't wanna make it too long.


The Holocaust, of course
Armenian Genocide
Josef Stalin in moustache and military uniform, dies of natural causes unlike the coward Hitler

Pretzel rods by Snyder's of Hanover, PA

Our peach tree weighed down with baby peaches
Peach Pie a la mode
Robin Franklin at "our" Giant

Colony collapse disorder
Six colorful bee houses on Huntingdon Road


The late Horace Silver on piano, playing Song for my Father
My five radios
Listening to audio book in kitchen while I eat or cook

The smell of rain
Quick, little worms,
go back underground
before you dry up
like a crust of bread
we fed to Hansel and Gretel

Vladimir Putin
Bashar Assad-hole

Happy Father's Day to myself (I was both mom n dad to Sarah and Dan)
and other dads who be the best they know how.

Saturday, June 16, 2018


Letter to Texas Senators, Cornyn and Cruz and Congressman Burgess

I write this even though I am not naïve enough to believe that any of your staff members will ever let you see this message.  But, I go on.
Who are you?  Did you ever have the illusion that you were once a man of honesty, dignity and a man sure of his personal integrity?  If you ever did, you need to rethink who you are now.
Do you really have nothing to say about children being torn from their mothers who followed the law of seeking asylum only to have their children taken away?
Do you believe you are a true Christian and, thus, support Jeff Sessions in advocating this policy as defined by the Apostle Paul?  Do you really believe that to persist in this abhorrent and evil policy is doing, as Sarah Sanders says, following the edict that it is “biblical to follow the law”?  If you believe that, Jesus is hanging his head in shame!  As should you.
A special place in HELL for PM Trudeau?  Canada is a threat to Homeland Security? Canada burned down the White House in 1812? Douglas Frederick is still alive? Conservative values against increased deficit spending?  Alienating our closest allies?  Walking away from the Paris Climate Accords?  Childish name calling by America’s President?  Walking away from TPP?  (Go China!) Obama opening relationships with Cuba!  Have you see Rep. Lee Zellers rant against that effort?  Uh, yeah, Trump really did well in North Korea.  Sorry, that should be North Korea did really well with Trump.  No more exercises with South Korea. (Go Kim Jung Un!)
You know I could go on.  Bottom line?  You and many of your fellow Republicans are cowed and bowed with your only reason for being, for living, is to be re-elected.  Damn the oath you took to protect the Constitution.  It’s not about America and our democracy.  It is all about you, only about you.
I have only one question to ask.  Is this the legacy you want to leave your children?

Dr. Mary Begis
PS - MARY told me she has gotten lots of requests to circulate her letter.

Friday, June 15, 2018

PART ONE Letter to Texas legislators from Mary Jill Begis, PhD

Have you met my aunt, Mary Begis? She was married to my Uncle Don, my mom's younger brother, who died many yrs ago of esophageal cancer.

Mary is an extremely active woman. She's traveled around the world, worked as a psychologist, and goes around to mental health centers evaluating them for accreditation. She's owned several daycare facilities and is interested in the welfare of children.

Mary is the mother of three children, David, Cooper and Jill, and has several grandchildren.

Her last name is pronounced BEE-gus. Short for Beginsky, when the family arrived from eastern Europe.

Here's a letter she mailed off, something she had to do because of the state of our country. I did write her back and told her how much I admire her for sending this out. Who knows? It might have an impact.


Click  here.

Letter to Texas Senators, Cornyn and Cruz and Congressman Burgess

I write this even though I am not naïve enough to believe that any of your staff members will ever let you see this message.  But, I go on.
Who are you?  Did you ever have the illusion that you were once a man of honesty, dignity and a man sure of his personal integrity?  If you ever did, you need to rethink who you are now.
Do you really have nothing to say about children being torn from their mothers who followed the law of seeking asylum only to have their children taken away?
Do you believe you are a true Christian and, thus, support Jeff Sessions in advocating this policy as defined by the Apostle Paul?  Do you really believe that to persist in this abhorrent and evil policy is doing, as Sarah Sanders says, following the edict that it is “biblical to follow the law”?  If you believe that, Jesus is hanging his head in shame!  As should you.
A special place in HELL for PM Trudeau?  Canada is a threat to Homeland Security? Canada burned down the White House in 1812? Douglas Frederick is still alive? Conservative values against increased deficit spending?  Alienating our closest allies?  Walking away from the Paris Climate Accords?  Childish name calling by America’s President?  Walking away from TPP?  (Go China!) Obama opening relationships with Cuba!  Have you see Rep. Lee Zellers rant against that effort?  Uh, yeah, Trump really did well in North Korea.  Sorry, that should be North Korea did really well with Trump.  No more exercises with South Korea.  (Go Kim Jung Un!)
You know I could go on.  Bottom line?  You and many of your fellow Republicans are cowed and bowed with your only reason for being, for living, is to be re-elected.  Damn the oath you took to protect the Constitution.  It’s not about America and our democracy.  It is all about you, only about you.
I have only one question to ask.  Is this the legacy you want to leave your children?
Dr. Mary Begis

Sunday, June 10, 2018

PART TWO More on Car Show - loose poems - What Happened to Me? Dialysis

Read about The STAIRCASE director's thoughts on his film.  His name is Jean-Xavier de Lestrade

At the end of this blog, I'll have published a poem. At the car show yesterday, I spoke to a woman whose friend is a dialysis nurse. She presided over the death of a 17-yo boy on dialysis. He died.

Bc I live alone and at night listen to blaring music, I have a tickling in the back of my mind that someone has let themselves into my house.

Was doing my feet exercises on one of the steps. How easy it would be, thinks I, to tumble backwards down the steps, and meet my maker.

Image result for david robertson pennypack


How shall I remember David?
The usuals, good-natured, kindly,
ready with an answer or if not,
a referral.

Who's that singing in the backyard?
A cardinal? A whippowill? A lonesome sparrow?

When the birds sing,
when they awaken me at dawn,
and I grouse at my early rising,
I won't be mad for long, knowing,
it's David. David Robertson.

And put a PhD after that. He earned
his keep.


A tanned freckled woman
sits alone waiting for
Ellen and Anthony in
the Giant Coffee Shop.

They'll be along soon to
meet her and to buy half-dozen
particularly delicious
lo-sodium soups.

"Pops" is a slim new volume
the woman has checked out of
her library. She is aghast!
One of the main characters,
only a kid, has discovered his "people"
in Paris at a fashion show.

She herself, has just finished a short story
about a young black man, who has
discovered the art of sewing menswear
with his Brother sewing machine.

In Pops, the little boy, dresses in men's clothes
and hats at his prep school, and accepts
the taunts and bullying of the other kids.

As we know, no matter how good a book is,
tiredness, or true exhaustion, can never
win, and she leans back in the chair,
removes her reading glasses and naps.

Next to her is a table where they
discuss meds for a psychiatric
condition. She wishes they'd
turn up the volume, the patient
seems to be at Belmont, and when
she glances over, a a nervous
grandmotherly type looks her way.

After the nap, the iPhone is pulled out.
Her fingers tremble as she calls her
answering machine at home. What the hell
is the number? These numbers on the
iPhone are in different places.

Like looking in your drawer for your
favorite sweater and finding you're
in your underwear and passport drawer.

Okay, they're not coming, but it was
worth reading a wonderful book -
please, she thinks, don't let it
fizzle out as she reads on -
and then she walks confidently
from the store. Tonight
is pizza night with the
cauliflower crust.

She hasn't spent a penny
at the million-dollar
super store.


Reading in bed
while the moon shines,
I fail to hear the first
of the bird songs.

How rude!
Like going to
the orchestra and
coming in late.

My bedroom window
lets in cold air.
Back in my winter PJs
this first week of June,
I stare at the blaring moon
and where the pipes are
buried in the middle
of the streets.

Hail the workmen in hard hats
who did a job well done
a few looked like half-men,
centaurs? deep in the ditch
shoveling blacktop.


People can surprise you
no doubt about that.

Although I live in a modest
split-level house in a
Philadelphia suburb

With mulberries sullying
the bricks at the side door

I've gained access through
the process of Imagination

of this yacht LUNA docking
in Dubai.

If Dubai's not on your
bucket list, take a chance
and join me.

Or not.

You may get sicksick or
fall overboard to your
death like Natalie Wood.

A stray iceberg that
killed many on the Titanic?

Who knows, now that our
government has shut
down rules on caring
for our environment

Our environment who
babied us in the loving
arms of Motherhood.


A quick 20-yard dash to the
green recyclable before they arrive
their hissing, lilting, stop-n-go
green trash truck we so love on

Shaped like a baby humpback whale
it stops in front of my house
and collects detritus from the week
- plastic salad containers, a coffee bottle,
cardboard pieces, birdseed bags -
and my last-ditch effort, as I run out
in my shorts and black tank top

Tom's Toothpaste. As I run, I squeeze
out the last precious drops onto my tongue
and will brush the moment I go in.

Then, standing at attention at my door,
I wave and thank them in their fine
day-glo yellow vests.

Wave! Wave!
And the stout one with the beard waves
As does the one with graying hair.

As I go back inside I think, maybe
I'll stop coloring my hair. His gray
looked so becoming.


Ages ago, when manic-depression
turned my brain into an up and
down escalator, I told my
psychiatrist, Alex Glijansky,
that I never felt important.

Do you? I asked.

Of course, he answered.

Today as I watered our crops,
enclosed in a deer-defying cage,
I felt important.

Sprinkling the tomatoes, the
cucumbers, the assorted raspberry plants
from the one and only Barry Bush, then onto
the blue hydrangea, hidden under mounds
of weeds, but resurrecting themselves
like Jesus,

I felt important.

What a feeling. Just don't
let other people know about it.

Also, chronic suicidal thoughts typically indicate that an unhealed wound needs healing, whether that wound arises from past trauma, mental illness, grave loss, or some other cause.


Glenn Gould playing Bach's Inventions
always raises the mood after reading
about yet another suicide, this time a chef,
Anthony Bourdain.

Strolling outside on the little piece
of land granted me by William Penn,
the Lenne Lenape, and a piece of paper

Small, silent activity crosses my path
The chicodee brings a piece of straw
into the green birdhouse. It sways
in approval.

Five ant hills decided to take up
residence at the bottom of my driveway.
Oh, for a child - a little Daniel or Sarah -
to bend down and examine it. Even an old
grandmother will do, but Gramma Green
has long since left this world, leaving
behind her prayer books and fasting ways.

Have I mentioned my delicious omelet
I ate standing on the porch? The plate
was once Helene's, confined now at
Rydal Park, a better chef you could
not find.

A squeak and a hiss marks the arrival of the
yellow school bus. As a kid I could walk
to Mercer School, so never rode the bus
unless I went home with Suzanne.

Where are you now? And what became of our
report on The Yangtze River?


Hoofs, no.
Paws, no.
Talons, no.

A commotion-causing
left foot, yes.

A painful commotion-causing
left foot, very much so.

A marathon is out of the question
A swim down the Pennypack Creek
twisting and turning with
the tide, is an imagined feat
I'm getting ready for right now.

Bathing suit on
Towel in hand
The creek is up
the street

How cool the water feels
How free I feel
Foot pain all gone
A bald eagle
soars overhead
his poop just missing me.

THE SENTIMENTS OF THE BELOW POEM, which I'll write in a moment, were brought out in the film Brian's Song. Brian was a football player who at a young age was dying of cancer.

Lemme find a photo of the guy I'm gonna write a poem about.

Image result for male blond teenager



I still drive the harbor-grey Sentra to the dialysis center
passing the Seven-Eleven with the Reese Bars and Slurpees
I used to buy with my paperboy money

Open up the heavy glass doors to the center, hear the humming
of a dozen machines like red wagons speeding down distant hills

Put my backpack and shoes in the locker reading M-1 and
walk to an empty machine

Been coming for 120 hours. That's not me in the mirror,
that's a perversion, a mockery, a blimp whose kidneys
can't spit out liquid any more

Am I fond of the machine? Do I greet it like when Uncle Jack
comes to visit with his Scrabble board?

Dunno what I think any more. Death is at the end of the
hallway, though the paperwork's in for a donor.

Shall I welcome death? Shall I go out like our lab retriever
heading for the Thanksgiving ham scraps under the table?

Or making faces at God for letting this happen to me.

You know what? He still loves me. I feel it when I drive
home and watch the trees sway and the piano music
chatters on the radio and I'm not dead yet.